Is the tablet doomed?

The future.

Unloved by Gen Y and Z, it’s hard to imagine the mainstream survival of the tablet.

When the tablet first appeared, 6 years ago, most industry pundits laughed it off under the general premise of:

It’s hard to see anybody who needs a laptop buying an iPad, and I can’t see people using it as a smartphone either.

However, the iPad went onto become Apple’s fastest selling product of all time and it carved out a niche as the “couch computer of choice”, with over 20m in use in the U.K. alone.

It’s also found a home with the older generation, those that don’t need the complexity of a laptop but who’s eyes and dexterity doesn’t suit small screen phones.

But sales are falling, innovation has stopped and the price vs power vs features vs convenience argument is being won by laptops for features and smartphones for convenience. And most folks now don’t need the power.

With 16-24 year-olds sticking with smartphones, it’s hard to see tablets having a long-term future outside of niche corporate and hardcore digital markets. Besides, the tablet experience today is often nothing more than a large screen smartphone, so why pay for 2 devices? And, boy, have they got expensive. It’s very much an additional, and luxury, purchase for existing smartphone owners.

Back in 2010, when the tablet appeared, a smartphone was not powerful or flexible enough to run your life. They are now, so unless the tablet offers more than just a larger screen, it’s place in consumer life looks under serious threat.

Posh browsing, then. And some vertical markets.

If you can afford it, then it’s still a lovely way to browse the world when watching TV. Let’s just see if the next generation web experience doesn’t just focus exclusively on smartphones. It’s probably fair to say that it may go the same way as laptops, and become largely irrelevant for mass consumers.

The corporate world will likely continue to use it, or the detachable version, as will designers and geeks. But mostly these folks will use tablets as hyper-portable extensions of their existing digital workspace.

Farewell to the consumer tablet, it was fun. All hail the mighty smartphone.